Berry’s OSU report card: Don’t forget Alan Bowman’s heroics in Bedlam victory

Berry’s OSU report card: Don’t forget Alan Bowman’s heroics in Bedlam victory

Berry Tramel: The Cowboys quarterback made the play of the game right after he made his biggest mistake Saturday.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Nov 5, 2023, 1:00pm CST

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Nov 5, 2023, 1:00pm CST

Oklahoma State’s 27-24 Bedlam victory Saturday was not a pristinely-played game. But the Cowboys played well.

The defense held up royally, allowing just three touchdowns. The offense consistently moved the ball, without the big plays from tailback Ollie Gordon it had come to depend on.

“That’s a really good football game,” Mike Gundy said. “Lots of excitement, it’s kind of the way we wanted it. Back and forth, lots of big plays for both teams. Mistakes from both teams, things we wish we could have back and I’m sure there are mistakes they wish they could take back.”

But win a Bedlam showdown, especially when you’re the underdog, and the report card has to shine. And OSU’s does:

Alan Bowman: A. Just the OSU quarterback’s passing would have warranted an A. Bowman completed 28 of 42 for 334 yards, albeit with no touchdowns. But Bowman had no interceptions and no fumbles and no sacks. Bowman was productive while being incredibly protective of the ball. Six of Bowman’s incompletions were throwaways, to avoid a sack. But that’s not all Bowman did. His nifty 13-yard touchdown run off a quarterback draw got the Cowboys off to a good start, and it came on a second-and-11 play. Bowman also made the play of the game. On the first play of the fourth quarter, with OU leading 21-17, Gordon threw an ill-advised deep pass; Sooner safety Billy Bowman intercepted near the goal line and weaved his way past most of the pursuing Cowboys. But Alan Bowman hemmed in Billy Bowman along the sideline and veered him out of bounds at the OU 44-yard line. If OU’s Bowman had zipped past OSU’s Bowman, the Sooners would have had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Containing Gabriel: A. OU quarterback Dillon Gabriel has become quite a threat running the ball, either on option plays or scrambles. But Gabriel’s legs were little factor in the game. He was sacked twice (by Xavier Benson and Collin Oliver) and otherwise only ran once, a late one-yard gain off an option. No scrambles for yardage, and just four passes on the run; Gabriel completed them all for 35 yards total.

Bedlam 2023 in pictures

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Short-yardage offense: C. The Sooners consistently stuffed Gordon. On successive possessions in the third quarter, Gordon was stopped on third-and-2 and fourth-and-1, then on second-and-3, third-and-2 and fourth-and-1, both times in Sooner territory. But OSU otherwise made short-yardage situations work. Bowman twice threw for first downs off short-yardage situations, and another Bowman pass drew an interference penalty. Gordon ran for three first downs out of short yardage.

Aggression: A. Gundy gets a bad rap about his lack of Bedlam aggression. But Gundy was anything but passive on Saturday. Gundy went for four fourth downs. He allowed offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn to call that halfback pass. Alas, being aggressive doesn’t equate to success. The Cowboys converted just one of those fourth downs. Gordon’s pass was intercepted. Gundy’s motivation was not to set a tone. He said he didn’t think field goals would beat the Sooners, especially in the third quarter, when two possessions ended with 4th-and-1 failures. Gundy later admitted he was wrong about. His defense held up enough that a couple of field goals would have come in handy down the stretch. And finally, Gundy played to win on OSU’s final full possession, opening the playbook for a second-and-9 pass when the Cowboys were trying to run out the clock. The ball fell incomplete, preserving a Sooner timeout, but Gundy was full throttle.

Gameplan: B. Give offensive coordinator Kasey Dunn credit for a solid game plan. The Cowboys had curtailed the run/pass options a few weeks ago, giving Gordon the chance to display his talents as a downhill tailback. But the run/pass options were prevalent against OSU. Brent Venables said the run-pass options were huge in Bowman’s success. And OSU slowed its usually-fast tempo. The Cowboys often huddled, and the result was a 15-minute edge in time of possession, which Venables said helped wear down the OU defense.

Kicking game: A. Hudson Kauk gingerly dropped a punt that was downed at the OU 2-yard line. Brennan Presley had a 14-yard punt return. Alex Hale made both of his field-goal attempts. The Cowboys didn’t let the Sooners get much accomplished in the kicking game. Quite a good day for the OSU special teams.

Deep-pass defense: C. The Cowboys have been quite vulnerable to the deep ball this season but didn’t disintegrate vs. OU. Gabriel completed four of nine deep balls, for 148 yards. He would have had another big gainer, but Nic Anderson dropped what likely would have been a 67-yard touchdown pass. Cam Smith defended two of the incompletions; Dylan Smith had an interception on a long ball.

Relive Ollie Gordon’s run and dive for OSU’s first TD

Oklahoma State running back Ollie Gordon scored the first points of Bedlam 2023 on a 20-yard TD run in the first quarter.

 

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Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

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